Suffragist Carrie Chapman / MON 4-23-18 / sea snail with mother of pearl shell / Irene of old Hollywood / Semiconductor device with two terminals

Monday, April 23, 2018

Constructor: Lynn Lempel

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (the "Medium" is almost solely for a themer I've never heard of) (2:53)

THEME: GO FIRST (38A: Lead off ... or a hint to the circled letters) — words meaning "Go!" are contained in the circled letters, which are the first letters in the themers:

Theme answers:
  • SCATTER RUG (17A: Small floor covering)
  • SCRAMBLED EGGS (23A: Standard breakfast order)
  • LEAVENED BREAD (50A: Passover no-no)
  • SHOOT HOOPS (61A: Play H-O-R-S-E)
Word of the Day: SCATTER RUG (17A) —
  1. another term for throw rug. (google)
• • •

This is pretty classic fare from Lynn Lempel: simple theme, lively answers, clean fill. The revealer is spot-on. My only beef, which is not one, is that SCATTER RUG meant zilch to me. Zero, nada. I guessed the RUG part because, well, there were three letters left and the clue had "floor covering" in it, but that term means nothing to me. Is it a regionalism? An older ... ism? "Throw rug," I've heard of. And it's the same thing, so ... shrug, no idea. I also stumbled out of the gate by thinking 1A: Engaged in country-to-country combat (AT WAR) wanted a perfect-tense verb, and then by thinking that 1D: Likewise (ALSO) was SAME! Non-auspicious beginning, and yet I finished under 3, which tells me the puzzle was, in the main, quite easy. Monday easy, maybe even easier than usual. Once I got out of the NW, I paused only a handful of times while writing in answers, and lost time only because I remain the world's worst, most fat-fingered and clumsy keyboard navigator. I'm all typos and misplaced cursors and other nonsense, especially at high speeds.


My favorite corner was the NE, both because it's got the star of "Bullitt," which is one of the greatest movies of all time (I know it's not *that* Steve MCQUEEN, but try telling my "Bullitt"-loving brain that); it's also got Irene DUNNE, whom I adore, especially opposite Cary Grant (see "The Awful Truth," "My Favorite Wife," "Penny Serenade"). And finally, the corner has its own fabulous soundtrack: Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T."! Pretty YOUNG THING! He tells you what the letters mean in the song. He also tells you that TLC means Tender Lovin' Care, so it's a song both danceable and informative.

I am hopelessly DEVOTED to LAURA Linney forever and ever no matter what amen, so it was NICE to see her name here today. Ooh, and Johnny MATHIS. I finally finished cataloguing my LP collection, and there were two or three of his in there, including this ultra-cool one where he's smoking on the cover. I know smoking's bad blah blah blah but it's dumb to pretend some people don't make it look cool.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Ocean buildup / SUN 4-22-18 / Title city in 1960 #1 song / 1899 gold rush destination / Script suggestion about starting fight scene / Tally in Britain / Supergiant in Cygnus / Early Chinese dynasty / Root beer brand since 1937

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Constructor: Ross Trudeau

Relative difficulty: Challenging (14:50) (I've had a ballgame beer and a martini, tho, so ... !)

THEME: Pluses and Minuses [read: Plus E's and Minus E's] — familiar phrases have E's added to one word and dropped from another word, creating wacky phrases, clued wackily:

Theme answers:
  • STARES AND STRIPS (23A: Makes eye contact before undressing?)
  • FATHER IN ONE'S CAPE (39A: Parent wearing your Superman costume?)
  • NOTE A MOMENT TO SPAR (54A: Script suggestion about starting the fight scene?)
  • JETE-PROPELLED PLAN (78A: Ballet choreography?)
  • HAD LESS HORSE MANE (96A: Was harder for the bronco buster to hold on to?)
  • LEAST BUT NOT LAST (115A: Like the digit "0" in 2018?)
Word of the Day: SEA OOZE (62A: Ocean buildup) —
1.Same as Sea mud

• • •

ERM, no. I mean, specifically, ERM is a terrible answer, and also, no, I didn't really enjoy working out this theme. Every answer felt painful. Like ... E is dropped where? And added where? Why are there Other Random Es In These Answers?! Shouldn't themers like this have two and only two Es? I will give props to the title, which is perfect, but ugh, slog city, working this thing out. I also think SMALL OJ and SEA OOZE (!?) are just junk. I mean, they seem like they came from a purchased wordlist, something a computer recommended and the constructor failed to override. SMALL OJ might've been ok if it had been clued differently, perhaps with reference to, I don't know, its *abbreviatedness* or *beverageness* or anything. Took Forever to get that, and since it intersected two already-hard-to-get themers, ugh, the slogginess. Not knowing the tail end of HYPNOS also complicated things. SEA OOZE, also, come on. And lying right alongside a themer, man, that was rough. Ugh, and with [Giggle syllable] in there (worst crossword clue type ever, could be a jillion things), and the totally enigmatic 50D: Tip of the tongue? (ESE) (!?) (because languages, or "tongues," end ... in -ESE ...), yeesh, that central area was a bear. And for what? NOTE A MOMENT TO SPAR? Pfffft, and I was having such a nice day up to this point. Got some great records this morning because it's Record Store Day 2018! And went to a baseball game this afternoon and saw a Tigers prospect with a great name (Funkhouser!) who struck out Tebow, twice. And it's sunnnnnnny for the first time since, I think, 1936, so ... yeah, my mood was good. And now it's less good. But the martini is still kinda working its magic, *and* I'm listening to Talking Heads "Remain in Light," so ... OK, things could be worse.

Got upended all over the place. Misspelled DIEZ as DIES, which made GRAZE super duper hard to pick up (69A: Eat a little here, a little there). I honestly, repeatedly considered ERASE. Also thought SADIES at first, not SALLYS (111A: Actresses Field and Hawkins). Sally Hawkins was in "The Shape of Water." Which I saw. I just ... Hawkins made me go SADIE. Reflex. I also totally tanked the southern part of the grid, everything around ORIANA, whose name I forgot and botched like nine times before I got it right. ALOP? Oy, no. PIANO, no. IS APT TO, ouch. Is it AS DO I or AS AM I??? Again, all of this stuff crossed *two* themers, so ... Slog City. Maybe some of the theme answers end up being clever or cute ... I guess I can see that. But getting there was awfully painful work. I did love "LA CUCARACHA," though!

    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


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